Monday, May 07, 2012

Ranganathittu Ho!

Ranganthittu is a bird sanctuary located nearly 120 kms from Bangalore on the Mysore road, just off Srirangapatna. It's a day's drive from Bangalore and we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather to do a quick dekko.

We started from Bangalore around 7am with plans to reach the sanctuary by around 9-10. We took the Mysore road (State Highway #17) passing through Kengeri, Channapatna and Maddur. Surprisingly, we hit heavy traffic before RVCE, with all the Metro construction around which slowed us quite a bit. By the time we found the high road again near Kengeri, it was nearly 9.

Channapatna toy
We stopped for breakfast at Kamat near Ramanagara around 10. The buffet spread was awesome, with a wide range of regional delicacies that left us satiated, yet drowsy. The Jackfruit modaka and the Moode idli were outstanding! After buying a few colorful Channapatna toys (wooden ones for which it is famous), we headed out towards Mandya.

The turn after Srirangapatna towards the sanctuary was surprisingly unmarked. Thankfully with the iPhone navigators we had, we were able to find our way across the inner roads towards the sanctuary.

The sanctuary itself is incredibly verdant and well maintained. It has beautifully manicured lawns up front and the walk-ways are well paved. The main area of the sanctuary is a small lake (estuary?) of the Cauvery river, with a walk-way around it.

Ranganthittu stork
A large number of birds inhabit the islands on the lake - herons, egrets, painted storks - of varied colors and sizes, and are a worthy watch even to a un-ornithologist (for lack of a better word). The standard trip is a group short boating trip, though one can organized customized longer group-tours as well. Beware of the water though, for it has crocodiles in it, and we found 2-3 sized ones calmly swimming about (the guard assured us that the crocs were clearly fish and bird-eatarians and left humans alone).

Overall it was a worthy visit. The access one has to the birds is one of the closest I have had in any of the bird sanctuaries in India, literally a feet away at times. Plus the green surroundings and the calm waters make a worthy boating experience.

For those who follow: 1. The best times to visit are from February to May. 2. Make sure you try out the Kamat's lunch enroute from Bangalore. 3. The turn-off after Srirangapatna to Ranganthittu is unmarked, so do be on the lookout to avoid missing it. 4. Tickets at the entrance of the sanctuary include a boating trip (so do not book it again inside, as we did and realized late). 5. Do take a binocular or a telephoto lens for your camera for a great photo-opportunity.

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